Superfoods and their Super Powers

1 June 2016 || Food and well being

Hippocrates said: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. Nothing could be closer to the truth, especially when we talk about Superfoods.

But what exactly are Superfoods? They are mostly derived from plants – fruits, berries, spices and seeds which are particularly rich in active ingredients and beneficial nutrients which are good for your health such as mineral salts, vitamins and anti-oxidants.

Not all of these super-nutritious foods are difficult to track down and hard to pronounce…some can be found in any supermarket including beets, tomatoes, ginger, turmeric and red cabbage; many however do come from tropical countries and are only available in the UK in dried or powdered form.

Here are 10 Superfoods that you might not be familiar with:

1) Schisandra Berries

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Schisandra berries are the fruits of a plant called Schisandra Chinensis, native to Eastern Russia and Northern China. It’s original name is Wu Wei Zi, which means five flavoured berry as it is sweet, sour, salty, bitter and pungent at the same time. Considered a super-nutrient and used mainly in medical preparations, this miracle berry is a natural tonic for the body and the mind. Used as a sexual tonic and also said to prolong life, slow down the ageing process, increase energy and fight fatigue, Schisandra also possesses significant protective antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

2) Ulu Fruit

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Ulu is the fruit of the Breadfruit tree. The name comes from the flavour of the fruit which has more in common with freshly baked bread or even potatoes than fruit! Just one of these fruits contains more potassium than 10 bananas. Because of the super nutrients it contains it is a very important staple food for the populations of developing countries.

Ulu fruit can be ground into flour and used in sweet and savoury dishes, including pancakes and crisps. It is rich in vitamins and minerals, as well as being a high source of gluten-free carbohydrate and protein.The protein in the fruit has a higher proportion of aminio acids than soy.

3) Acerola Cherry

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Acerola is a wonder fruit which is said to be richer in vitamin C than any other food source. It also contains Vitamin A, B Vitamins and Bioflavonoids, known for their anti-oxidant qualities. Boost the immune system, the digestive system and cognitive function.

Due to their short shelf life, fresh acerola cherries are hard to find outside of the regions where they are grown, which is why they are commonly sold in powdered form.

Acerola cherry powder has a wonderfully tarty taste, and can be added to a variety of drinks, including smoothies, juices, shakes, but can also be sprinkled on yoghurts, muesli and oatmeal.

4) Acai Berries

acai

Acai berries are small blue fruits which originated in the South American Rainforest. They are related to blue berries and share their high anti-oxident content. Anti-oxidents are important for protecting the heart and the cardiovascular system. They also help to lower cholesterol and contain plant sterols which help to maintain healthy blood vessels.

5) Moringa

Moringa leaves with paste

This green superfood is sold in powder form and made from the naturally dried leaf of the Moringa tree (known as the ‘Tree of Life”), one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. It is a rich source of plant protein and is extremely high in ten essential Vitamins and Minerals.

6) Maca

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Maca, also known as Peruvian Ginseng is an excellent natural energizer. Available in powder form, a teaspoon of maca can be added to your morning smoothie to kickstart your day! It also helps to combat stress and reduce anziety and taken regularly is said to improve fertility.

7) Spirulina

superfood-sunday-spirulina

Spirulina is an algae which is taken as a natural supplement to stimulate the immune sysytem. This superfood is rich in Vitamins A, B, C and E, iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium. It also has anti-oxidant and anti-ageing properties.

8) Dragon Fruit

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Dragon fruit or Pitaya is a beautiful, exotic fruit, usually vibrant red in colour and obtained from several species of the cactus family. It is rich in Vitamin C and calcium and phosphorous. The fruit’s outer skin is cactus-like, resembling that of the scales of a mythical dragon and its creamy white flesh is spotted with black seeds. It can be eaten with a spoon just like a kiwi.

9) Graviola

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Graviola comes from a tree in the rain forests of Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia. Its scientific name is Annona muricata. It is also known as custard apple, cherimoya, guanabana, soursop and brazilian paw paw. The active ingredient is thought to be a type of plant compound (phytochemical) called annonaceous acetogenins. It is considered to be an antibiotic and anti depressant and is currently being studied as a possible cancer treatment.
10) Aronia Berry

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The Ariona plant is indigenous to Northern Europe and its small, dark berries contain three times the amount of antioxidants of the blueberry. Packed with nutrients and antioxidants, such as vitamin C and anthocyanins, they offer an array of health benefits and are said to have anti-ageing properties. Fresh aronia berries are commonly used to make juice, jam, syrup, and wine. Dried aronia berries, which are available in many health food stores, can be eaten as a healthy snack, added to muesli, or used in muffins.

Are you already adding some of  these nutrient-packed superfoods to your diet? Let us know which ones you have tried and what you thought of them!

Article kindly provided by our friends at Wellvit, Italy

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